How Hawaii’s Elected Officials Voted – May 20, 2013

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May 20, 2013In this MegaVote for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District:

Recent Congressional Votes

  • Senate: Water Resources Development Act – Passage
  • Senate: CMS Nominee – Confirmation
  • Senate: Energy Department Nominee – Confirmation
  • House: Obamacare Repeal – Passage
  • House: SEC Cost-Benefit Analysis – Passage

Upcoming Congressional Bills

  • Senate: Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013
  • House: Smarter Solutions for Students Act
  • House: Northern Route Approval Act

Recent Senate Votes

Water Resources Development Act – Passage – Vote Passed (83-14, 3 Not Voting)

The Senate laid down its marker last week for a full reauthorization of Army Corps of Engineers water projects with a broad, bipartisan majority. S. 601, shepherded to passage by liberal Environment and Public Works chairman Barbara Boxer of California and conservative ranking Republican David Vitter of Louisiana, reauthorizes port and harbor dredging, levees, dams, and storm repair for periods ranging from five to ten years. It also makes numerous reforms to current permitting procedures in an attempt to reduce the amount of time needed to get projects approved and under way. Several of the latter provisions are controversial, particularly language that would impose financial penalties on laggard agency heads. For that reason a compromise was negotiated to sunset the streamlining reforms after 10 years. Another major change concerns the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF), the primary funding vehicle for dredging coastal and Great Lakes ports. Though conceived as a dedicated fund for harbor maintenance, in practice congressional appropriators in recent years have diverted HMTF dollars to unrelated projects. S. 601 would slowly end that practice, increasing the amount of funding dedicated to harbor maintenance by $100 million annually for six years, after which time all HMTF revenue would be so directed. Action now moves to the House side, where Transportation and Infrastructure committee chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa. has begun having hearings but appears in no rush.

Sen. Brian Schatz voted YES
Sen. Mazie Hirono voted YES


CMS Nominee – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (91-7, 2 Not Voting)

The Senate confirmed Marilyn Tavenner to be the next administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Tavenner will play a prominent role in overseeing implementation of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul. She is the first Senate-confirmed CMS administrator since 2004.

Sen. Brian Schatz voted YES
Sen. Mazie Hirono voted YES


Energy Department Nominee – Confirmation – Vote Confirmed (97-0, 3 Not Voting)

In its last action of the week, the Senate unanimously confirmed MIT physicist Ernest J. Moniz to be the next Energy secretary, replacing another physicist, Steven Chu.

Sen. Brian Schatz voted YES
Sen. Mazie Hirono voted YES


Recent House Votes

Obamacare Repeal – Passage – Vote Passed (229-195, 9 Not Voting)

The House took its three dozenth or so vote last week on repealing the 2010 health care overhaul. We noted in this space last week that, as introduced, the bill appeared not to repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), a body created by the law to reduce supply-side Medicare expenditures. It is not clear whether this was a clerical error, or perhaps whether House Republicans had a separate bill dealing with IPAB – Phil Roe of Tennessee has introduced such a bill, and IPAB repeal did pass the House last Congress – but the version of H.R. 45 that passed leaves no such ambiguity. Democrats Mike McIntyre of North Carolina and Jim Matheson of Utah – both very conservative by their caucus’s standards and in very competitive districts – joined all Republicans in voting ‘yes.’ As with each previous attempt at wholesale repeal, this bill will go nowhere in the Senate. The president issued a perfunctory veto threat.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted NO

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted NO

SEC Cost-Benefit Analysis – Passage – Vote Passed (235-161, 37 Not Voting)

In its final action of the week, the House took aim at one of Wall Street’s main regulators, the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC). Republicans have long complained that federal regulations are impeding economic recovery. In that spirit, H.R. 1062 would require the SEC to change its rulemaking procedures by conducting cost-benefit analyses before issuing new rules and two years after a rule takes effect. The bill would also require the agency to review existing rules and alter or repeal them if they are not working. Democrats largely opposed the bill, though 17 did cross over to support the bill. Opponents largely framed the measure as a Trojan horse for dismantling the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations. The administration is opposed to the bill, and it is unlikely to be taken up in the Senate.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted Not Voting

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted NO

Upcoming Votes

Agriculture Reform, Food, and Jobs Act of 2013 – S.954

After congressional agriculture leaders were forced to swallow an extension last year, the Senate is taking another go at passing a five-year farm bill. One major difference between this year’s measure and the bill that passed the Senate last year is the reappearance of target prices, a win for producers of such crops as peanuts and cotton. The change is largely attributable to the ascension of Mississippi’s Thad Cochran to the ranking Republican slot on the Agriculture committee. The administration has issued a policy statement in support of S. 954.

Smarter Solutions for Students Act – H.R.1911

The House is scheduled to vote on this bill, which would change the way student loan interest rates are calculated.

Northern Route Approval Act – H.R.3

The House is also scheduled to vote on this bill to circumvent the presidential permitting process and approve the Keystone XL pipeline.